What do your teeth have to do with your brain?

A good question; the simple answer would be, nothing. The more complex answer may turn out to be, quite a lot.

Recent studies have raised concern that the condition of gums and teeth may have a direct impact on the development of Alzheimer's disease.

These studies are of interest to me because I have been under treatment for the past two years for gingivitis, or inflammatory gum disease. I had done everything the dentist suggested; brush twice (sometimes three times) daily, floss daily, change toothpaste, rinse with hydrogen peroxide before brushing, rinse with a medicinal mouth wash after brushing, and finally, professional cleanings every three months.

Nothing helped.

Then the hygienist suggested I purchase an electric toothbrush that they just happened to sell. I bought one, hated it, and really didn't give it a chance to work.

I was getting very frustrated when the hygienist then suggested a Waterpik. I bought the Waterpik immediately following my last bad dental report.

After using it for two-and-a-half months I went back for another checkup. Success! There was hardly any evidence of the inflammation that had hounded me for years.

I can't say I love the Waterpik but, for me, it is less annoying than the electric toothbrush.

Does this mean I won't develop Alzheimer's?

Of course not, but it eliminates one possible cause for the disease.

One study showed that bi-products of the bacterium p. gingivitis were found in brain samples of four out of ten Alzheimer's patients, but not in any of the brains of ten people without dementia.

In another study, New York University dental researchers studied people from 50-70 years of age, and were able to link inflamed gums to a greatly increased risk of cognitive impairment. It seems that the pathogens connected with inflamed gums can generate inflammation in the brain cells, resulting in Alzheimer's disease.

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There are numerous thoughts on the causes of dementia, but staying on top of dental problems is one of the easiest ways to lower your chances of developing this devastating diagnosis.

Any bleeding when brushing or flossing your teeth could be the first sign that you or your family member might be developing gingivitis. If you can nip it the in the bud, you just might stop the onset of dreaded Alzheimer's.

It's certainly worth a try.

Now if I can just convince Charlie to try the Waterpik, who knows, maybe I can slow his dementia progress.

I'll let you know how that turns out.